Monday, September 22, 2008

My Friend Bill

William “Bill” Stocker, N8LFR, passed away Sunday evening, September 14 at about 8 pm at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Saginaw, Michigan. Bill was three days short of his 84th birthday. I knew Bill through my participation in the original Old Goat’s Net on the Lake Huron Amateur Radio Club repeater located in Bad Axe, Michigan. Bill was the cornerstone of amateur radio in these parts and quite a remarkable man.

Bill was a true radioman known throughout the county as a fine professional. A World War II veteran, Bill sometimes worked for the local two-way radio firm, Thumb Radio, was the caretaker of the local TV station, WDCP Channel 35 in Ubly, and also served as the custodian of the LHARC repeaters in Bad Axe. Bill was the seasoned authority on all things electronic. He was an avid ham and was always willing to take questions and always offered thoughtful answers.

Bill loved his community serving as mayor and councilman in his hometown of Bad Axe. He was a member of the VFW and Masons and also volunteered as a firefighter. His goal in life was to make the world a better place. He succeeded time and time again.

Nearly every Fourth of July, Bill rode the Masons’ float in the Port Austin parade. I remember Bill, one summer, donning a ‘McDuff, the Crime Dog’ suit for the parade. It was a big oversized costume, inflated with a running fan, and it was really hot to wear in the summer’s sun. Bill didn’t mind because he knew how much the kids liked it and had worn it all over the county at charity events. When the LHARC annual picnic came along at the end of July, Bill once again got into the suit just for the fun of it. What a guy he was!

Bill’s demeanor was always low-key and thoughtful. He was a good listener and would make everyone feel like they were important to him. I was often astounded when Bill shared a point of radio history or a nugget from his vast experience. There wasn’t anyone who doubted Bill was ‘Mr. Radio’ in Huron County and beyond. His voice was quite familiar as the identifier on the two meter repeater we all still use on a daily basis.

I only get to spend a handful of days every summer in Huron County so I never got to know Bill as well as I had liked. For nine summers I have checked into the LHARC Old Goats’ Net every morning like clockwork. You’d better believe that the very first check-in most mornings was Bill’s familiar voice chiming in with ‘N8LFR’ (his amateur radio call sign.) Now, there will always be a void because Bill is missing. Bill always encouraged younger hams to chair the daily net and learn about the repeaters. Now, their time has most definitely come. Things will never be the same. We will really miss you, Bill.

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